Interviews:Prepare to Succeed 1 is application time for a variety of career areas and further study, and back here at the Careers Service we’ve been busy offering feedback on students’ applications for graduate schemes, internships, further study etc, to ensure you market yourself and your experience as well as possible – as outlined in my recent post ‘Applying yourself to your applications’.

Well, I’m very happy to say that all your efforts have translated many of these applications into interviews, and we are getting increased numbers of requests for practice interviews and interview advice.

Now the secret of successful interviews is in the title of this post – it’s Preparation.

Treat an interview like an exam – you need to swot up on:

  • the role/subject you’re applying for – what’s involved, why it’s important
  • the organisation/course you are applying to – who they (and their competitors) are, why you want to work for them, study there, in particular.
  • yourself! Why you want this particular position/course, and why you think you’ll be suited for it with evidence – of relevant skills and experience.
  • your non-verbal communication – make sure you look the part, give out positive messages via your posture, smile, tone of voice etc

And then, as well as thinking of typical questions that you may be asked (and questions you want to ask them)…..

  • why are you interested in this role/course?
  • why do you want to work for us?
  • why do you think you are suited for this position?
  • tell me about a time when you demonstrated…………teamwork, leadership, communication, interpersonal etc etc skills – ie competency questions
  • etc etc – find more typical questions via our website

…………and how you might respond, it’s also really really useful to practice speaking answers out loud.

Not so that you’re word perfect, as in rehearsing a Shakespeare soliloquy, but so that you get used to talking positively about yourself, what it feels like to talk things out, rather than think them, and you become aware of where the pitfalls are, where you might ramble, dig yourself into a hole etc.

You can get this sort of practice in several different ways:

  • via a practice interview at the Careers Service
  • talking to yourself in the mirror (scary yes, but effective – you see your ‘non-verbal communication’ as well – your posture, smile, eye-contact, fidgets etc)
  • asking friends, family etc to ask you questions and give you feedback
  • using a recording device to listen to how you sound – yes, you’ll sound like some else (I hear my sister when I hear myself as others do), but it’s good for hearing how confident, or otherwise, you sound, and picking up on ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ etc. We all do them, and fine to do some – but not too many!

So, if you’ve got interviews in the pipeline, get started on that preparation sooner rather than later. To paraphrase a not-so-recent-now ex-prime-minister, the key to interview success is ‘Preparation, Preparation, Preparation’!

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